Shock and awe equals terror

WE all remember it well. The pictures of smoke billowing over the New York skyline after the appalling terrorist strikes of September 11, 2001 were among the most shocking and haunting things we will ever see.

WE all remember it well. The pictures of smoke billowing over the New York skyline after the appalling terrorist strikes of September 11, 2001 were among the most shocking and haunting things we will ever see.

Today's images of Baghdad – a major city of around 5million people – lit up by huge blazes, massive clouds of smoke pouring across the buildings, are horrifyingly similar.

As last night's "mission" began, Baghdad resident Subhy Haddad was reporting to his BBC World Service listeners.

He spoke movingly of his 11-year-old daughter's terror.


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He cut short his broadcast with these words: "Sorry – my wife is shouting, the bombardment has started. This time the raid has started before the air-raid siren. The windows are shaking. I have to go."

We were all horrified in 2001 to see and hear people in the Middle East celebrating the attack on the World Trade Centre.

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How does this differ from what we see around us today as many in the West celebrate the war, and the blitzing of Iraq?

Of course, by no means all Muslims were glad to see the devastation in New York. It's just that the ones who were made better stories and pictures for press and TV.

Happily, by no means all Americans or Brits are glad or proud to see what the Bush and Blair administrations are doing in our name.

Also among today's press images is one of protesters in Chicago.

One carries aloft a banner bearing the simple message: "Shock and awe = terror".

That says it all, really.

Deliberately spreading terror and death is an unforgivable sin. Whether it is done with a hijacked civil aircraft or a hi-tech military one.

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